Taking you from Perth to Exmouth, this unforgettable road trip hugs the coastline, allowing you to uncover the very best of Western Australia’s Coral Coast. Spanning 10 days, it’s one you could certainly stretch out if you want to experience more of this entrancing region as you travel up the coast. From the astounding Pinnacles Desert and Hutt Lagoon’s breathtaking pink lake, to Monkey Mia’s dolphins and Ningaloo Reef’s underwater paradise, this is your bucket list road trip, no doubt about it.
Perth to Perth
Best Time of the Year
all year round
- Ningaloo Reef
- Shark Bay
- Coral Bay beach
- Abrolhos Islands
- Monkey Mia
- Cape Range
Perth to Geraldton
Distance 414km - Driving Time 4 hours 30 mins
With your campervan packed and ready to go, head onto the Indian Ocean Drive from Perth, to arrive at Nambung National Park in just over two hours. As one of Western Australia's most unique natural attractions, Nambung’s famous Pinnacles Desert is an awe-inspiring sight, filled with thousands of huge limestone pillars that can be explored on foot or on a scenic drive.
Back on the road, consider stopping at the relaxed fishing town of Jurien Bay to take advantage of its first rate snorkelling and diving. Here you can explore underwater caves and coral gardens sheltered by a string of islands and limestone reefs, where the rare Australian sea lion calls home.
Further north is Port Denison, a haven for fishing enthusiasts and watersports aficionados. Try your hand at surfing, body boarding, kite surfing or stand-up paddle boarding, or have a go at hooking your dinner in waters known for their abundance of tailor, snapper, whiting and dhufish.
Geraldton to Kalbarri
Distance 155km - Driving Time 4 hours 30 mins
After yesterday’s busy day on the road, take the morning to explore Geraldton. Another dream destination for watersports lovers, Geraldton offers everything from windsurfing and boating, to diving and snorkelling. Just 60km from shore, the coral-fringed Abrolhos Islands are a must-see.
With the campervan packed up, travel north towards Kalbarri before hitting your first stop for the day, Hutt Lagoon. As one of Western Australia’s famous pink lakes, Hutt Lagoon is a sight to behold, shifting between vivid pink, soft lilac and deep red, depending on the time of day and the conditions. Try to be there around sunset to see the lake at its most vibrant.
Whether you’ve got kids or not, feeding the pelicans along the foreshore is always a great start to the day in Kalbarri. From there, this seaside adventure playground is yours to explore.
Hike the trails through Kalbarri National Park to uncover 400 million year-old river gorges, dramatic coastal rock formations, and soaring vistas from the new Kalbarri Skywalk. Take to the water on a paddle boat or kayak, or join a canyoning and abseiling tour. Surf a few waves, or take a scenic flight over the national park, down towards the Abrolhos Islands. With so many options, you’ll want to stay an extra day – or four!
Kalbarri to Denham (Shark Bay)
Distance 375km - Driving Time 3 hours 45 mins
Back on the road, you can break up the journey to Shark Bay with a quick stop at Hamelin Pool, to visit one of only two places in the world where you can find rare organisms known as stromatolites. Further on, take the short detour to Shell Beach, where you can relax with a picnic and marvel at the stark white beach made up entirely of tiny, curved cockle shells.
Another worthy stop on your way to Denham is Ocean Park Aquarium, the award-winning, eco-friendly aquarium whose mission it is to protect and conserve the marine environment, while inspiring visitors to appreciate the oceans.
Be sure to book in a Wula Gura Nyinda Eco-Cultural Adventure. Travel back in time and discover the secrets of the Shark Bay World Heritage Area. See this ancient wilderness from the 'inside' and explore the deep spiritual connection between the local Aboriginal People and this breathtaking saltwater oasis.
Explore Shark Bay
A truly unforgettable destination, Shark Bay is one of those places that could keep you entertained for days. If your time here is limited, make the most of it by finding out what’s on.
While your day will likely start with Monkey Mia’s bottlenose dolphins, from there, the day is your own. One option could involve taking a scenic flight over Shark Bay, Dirk Hartog Island and Francois Peron National Park to spot pink lakes, turquoise seas, and perhaps even pods of whales.
If you want a different view of Francois Peron National Park, opt for a four-wheel drive tour, or take to the park on foot. Looking for something a little more low key? Chill out with a picnic at Little Lagoon, or enjoy a sunset wildlife cruise on the bay.
Denham to Carnarvon
Distance 327km - Driving Time 3 hours 30 mins
After an early start, you will arrive in Carnarvon by lunchtime. This palm-fringed coastal oasis is a water lover’s paradise with plenty to explore. You could spend the afternoon surfing, windsurfing or kite surfing, or if you prefer, cast a line in to enjoy some of Western Australia’s best year-round fishing.
With a bounty of fresh foods grown and produced here, this is the place to stock up on fresh mangoes, papaya, bananas, carambola melons and grapes, direct from local plantations. And, if you love seafood, check out the enticing array of prawns, scallops, crab and local fish on offer from May to October. Why not pack a picnic and relax for the rest of the day at the entrancing waterholes at Rocky Pool?
Carnarvon to Coral Bay
Distance 238km - Driving Time 2 hours 30 mins
From Carnarvon, it’s just a few short hours in the campervan to the mesmerizingly beautiful Coral Bay, where you will spend the next two days – and will no doubt fall in love.
Explore Coral Bay
Just steps from Coral Bay’s white sandy beaches is the world’s largest fringing reef, the World Heritage listed Ningaloo Reef. From whale sharks and manta rays, to humpback whales, dugongs, turtles and more fish than you can count, this is the place to see them all.
Whether you plan on diving, snorkelling, taking a glass-bottom boat tour or a scenic flight, make the most of your time in Coral Bay to uncover everything this gorgeous part of the world has to offer.
Coral Bay to Exmouth
Distance 155km - Driving Time 1 hour 40 mins
While it will be difficult to say goodbye to Coral Bay, more adventure awaits as you drive up the coast to Exmouth and Cape Range National Park. Similar to Coral Bay, Exmouth provides access to Ningaloo Reef from the shore, with just as many exciting ways to explore this underwater paradise on offer. For keen divers, the Navy Pier is not to be missed.
Inland, Cape Range National Park offers a change of pace – and a change of scenery. Here you can discover dramatic canyons and rugged gorges, to enjoy spectacular outback adventures filled with striking vistas, captivating native wildlife and magnificent local flora.
Exmouth to Perth
Distance 1249km - Driving Time 13 hours
Stay and play or time to head back to Perth. If you’ve got a couple of extra days up your sleeve then stick around and enjoy the beauty of Ningaloo Reef and Cape Range. For those heading back, this is the turnaround point, retracing your steps back down the coast to Perth. Do it in a couple of days with a stop in Kalbarri, or take a bit longer and drop into some of those locations you missed on the way up.